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Fighting for Your Marriage No Matter What (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
June 21, 2021 6:00 am

Fighting for Your Marriage No Matter What (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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June 21, 2021 6:00 am

Singer-songwriter Matt Hammitt and his wife, Sarah, candidly discuss the severe marriage problems that resulted from his busy touring schedule, personality clashes, an adverse diagnosis, and a close-call emotional affair. Our guests offer troubled couples hope as they describe how grace, forgiveness, and faith helped save their marriage. (Part 1 of 2)

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Get involved in promoting the sanctity of human life with Focus on the Family's See Life 2021. It's a six-episode digital experience to help you embrace the pro-life cause with truth, compassion, and empathy. See Life 2021 premieres on Focus on the Family's websites and social media channels on Friday, July 16th at 7 p.m. Then each week we'll debut a new episode to equip you on the pro-life issues of our day. You'll hear from respected leaders and see amazing testimonies from women and men whose lives have been impacted. So join us for this life-changing six-week experience online premiering on Friday, July 16th. Also mark your calendar now for the culmination of See Life 2021 with a Celebrate Life live experience in Dallas-Fort Worth on August 28th.

For more details, visit focusonthefamily.com slash see life. That day I looked at, I'd see my wife in tears and we've all seen our spouse, especially for men, our wives through tears just when their emotions are broken. And I saw her countenance that day. And I turned and I looked at the wedding picture of just sitting on the table right next to me. And in that wedding picture, I mean, she quite literally, not just because she looked beautiful, but her countenance was glowing with so much hope. And I could see such a stark contrast of the woman that was sitting in front of me seven years later.

And it just broke my heart. Well, that's Christian recording artist Matt Hammett. And he joins us today on Focus on the Family, along with his wife, Sarah, and they have an incredible story.

I'm John Fuller with your host, Focus president and author, Jim Daly. If you've heard Matt's song, Lead Me, then you know, his lyrics are honest. They are the cry of every spouse's heart that feels separated from their husband or from their wife. We all long for someone who will stay with us, who will stand with us and most of all, fight for our marriage.

And so often, it's not the case. Our counseling team on staff here focus on the family. They receive so many calls related to this area, especially from wives who would love for their husbands to step up and lead their family spiritually. I think it's probably the number one thing that we hear about from wives. So often, it's easy for us as husbands to focus on our role as providers, not realizing that our families really need us at home emotionally with them.

And many wives get so discouraged that they start to give up any hope that their marriage will ever be fulfilled in that way. And I know Jean has felt that way with me at times, emotionally distant. I get captivated with work and travel and everything I'm doing. It's easy for me to get consumed with other stuff and worry about those other things.

And she feels like I'm not connecting with her. I think those feelings are in just about every relationship at one point or another. So today, we want to share a story of a couple who illustrates this point so beautifully. They stayed together, fought through and fought for their relationship, even through personality clashes, work issues, a child with critical illness, and a close call with an affair. They've experienced a lot. So stay with us because there's many good things you're going to learn today.

There's a great God story here. And as I said earlier, Matt and Sarah Hammett are with us. Matt is a singer-songwriter and was the lead singer of the band Sanctus Real for 20 years. And he and Sarah have four children, ages 8 to 14. Matt and Sarah, welcome to Focus on the Family. Thank you.

It's good to be here. Matt, I'm going to start with you. I'm going to pick on you all day. Sure, man.

Bring it on. Might as well start right there. Hearing about the first time you saw Sarah, I thought it was an interesting way that you described in the book, Lead Me, how you guys got together. And it's full of passion.

So hit it. Yeah, well, you know, I'd seen her at a festival where Sanctus Real was playing as an independent band. We were excited that day because we were opening up for at the time, you know, Third Day and Audio Adrenaline, bands we looked up to. And it was in the evening and I was just still hanging out around there. And I look out into the field during one of the performances that night. And on the fringes of the crowd, the light was kind of shining on this one area where this girl was just dancing around and laughing.

And she was in overalls like the most laid back, carefree person, you know, that I could see in that crowd. And I thought, man, I'm kind of an uptight guy. You know, I'm a little OCD. Opposites attract, right? I have anxiety.

I think I need more of that in my life. And so, you know, that night I just remember thinking like, man, maybe I should have talked to her. And I didn't. And this festival was about three hours from our hometown. So we drove that night back because the next morning we had to actually lead worship at a community wide church service. And little did I know is that obviously that girl was Sarah and that her family, her mother's church and her grandmother's church were both part of this event. So they'd asked her to drive up as well from the Columbus area to be there that morning. So I was up on stage singing leading worship and I looked out and there she was, the carefree girl from the festival the night before. She was following you.

Sarah shaking her head no. But you know, at the same time, what I appreciated about the story is you also, you weren't really dating at the time. That was a part kind of similar to my story about that age. But yeah, so I mean, when you're not really concentrating on it, when you're not thinking about it, then the Lord plants Sarah in your vision. Totally. Yeah, I got to a point where I was like, you know, I'm just not gonna be looking at this time.

I'm gonna focus on, you know, the path that kind of seems before us with the band and ministry. And so, yeah, there she was. The Lord kind of dropped her at that time. So it was a really beautiful thing, you know. So that second time when I saw her, though, I wasn't gonna leave it a chance again, you know. You're gonna seize the moment. Let's get Sarah's side of the story.

Sarah, you did shake your head a little no in the beginning. But yeah, well, so my story starts, golly, nine months before that, I saw him performing on a stage at Christmas time. And I thought, Lord, you know, if you give me that man, I think we could do great things. And so I prayed about him for two weeks, and then I forgot about him.

And then I went away on a strong prayer. Well, two weeks. I don't mean that meanly.

It's just like, for two weeks, I was like, focused and like, well, I don't know if I'll ever see that guy again. So that makes sense. And it was longer than a day. Yeah, exactly.

So hey, that is true. And then I went away to a summer project through the summer and came back. And that's when that all happened. How old were you at that time?

I was 19. Okay, perfect. And obviously, you approached her on that second gig. Yeah. Yeah. Using the lingo.

You notice that? Yeah. And then, and so how did you approach her at that point? Say, Hey, by the way, I saw you the other night.

Yep. I just walked up to her. I did. I was like, Hey, I see you last night at this thing. And I just wanted to just introduce myself. And so I got to know the family briefly. And I remember taking down her number on this little yellow sticky note, which I still have by the way. You're prepared.

Yeah. Probably from mom's purse, you know. And so and then I think that week, we just set up a time for us to just go hang out. And I brought chocolate cherry brownies that I made myself, which I thought would be impressive.

And I was in my sweatpants. And I remember walking into her house that week for the first time, and her dad was like under the dishwasher and fixing something and just, I remember it was like, that their family was so different from mine. Our, you know, our family was not not quiet, but I don't know their family.

Yeah, maybe a little more reserved. Their family was just, and then his mom's yelling from the back porch. And Bill yelling back at Pam, I'm under the dishwasher, you know, and she's just like, we're unbridled. Yeah, yeah. And I was like, man, wow, this this is I was like, man, they they're just like in their element, man. They welcome me right into life is normal, you know, they didn't need to impress me, which actually I liked because I was like, Okay, this is actually great.

This is I'm getting the real deal right away. They are right. I like that, too. So you get through the dating period.

And I'm sure there's lots of funny stories here. But you get to your wedding and you do what's done at weddings. And you say I do. You jump in the car after the reception.

And then what happens? Oh, that's right. Yeah, we're talking about the am I bringing up?

No, this is good. That's great. Great. You wrote it in the book.

Because people are gonna be like, I'm not the only one. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, first first married. She wanted to, you know, roll down the windows and scream as you should do.

Right. I wanted to noise and I mean, I had daydreamed about just making some ruckus after you get married and everyone cheering and being excited honking the horn that was not his he did not want. I don't like to make a spectacle you know, I kind of like okay, so the differences are really showing. And I remember her being like, I've dreamed about this my whole life. I'm like, Okay, I'm trying to you know, it's like, it was so awkward. And that moment those that perfectly embodied, you know, we had this passionate love for each other, but that perfectly embodied like those differences between us is the forecast. I say when OCD met carefree, you know, clinical diagnosis right there. So your first year marriage, you're on the road.

This adds a whole nother complication to it. Jean and I did that we went we were doing not singing. Yeah, heavens know.

We're doing drug and alcohol abuse shows at high schools. That was already pre produced. We were like the technician setting it up. But we were nine months on the road together. And right after we got married. Did you have a crew? No, we were the crew.

And we'd set this thing up, hit the button, it would roll. And it was a great way to get to know each other. But I can relate to you guys being on the road together because it's 24 seven. And it's, it's smashing a lot of you together in a short period of time, right?

Yeah, it's interesting. It was. It was so fun. I mean, we really had a blast. And in the moment, it didn't feel crazy. Does that make sense?

It does. It just felt young and fun and free. And it was awesome. We had a great time.

But looking back, I really think how in the world did we survive that? I mean, we had no time alone. Yeah, it was it was we were sleeping in the van most nights or sometimes I would even have to sleep on the floor of a hotel room like because we would take turns in the beds because there was just not everybody. It was there was no money.

So yeah, exactly. Yeah, I mean, that's not good for your first four or five guys in the van with her and having to share hotel rooms. And there was literally no privacy.

There's no place to be intimate, no place to argue. I mean, it really Yeah, that had to be hard. Yeah, it was like it was a pressure cooker in a lot of ways, you know, of emotion for us, early emotion, trying to figure out these things of just being a new family. And it was hard. Well, and I think my dream was him to meet a man that loved Jesus and loved me and wanted family.

And he's such a wonderful man. And I'm like, Okay, you're my dream. But his dream was the music.

So it just, you know, I was supporting him because that's what he wanted to do. That's really interesting. Yeah.

You had a mistress, and it was the music. Yeah, I guess so. Yeah. Wow. And I think maybe I would have thought I was portraying that she was my dream in that way.

But certainly that's not what was being portrayed to her. Yeah. And I, you know, it sets up that conflict.

So understandably, that you must have felt Sarah, like now I'm competing for him. And that kind of thing. So you're in this situation, again, four or five years, you get some news. And now it makes you worry.

What's the news? I just I'm pregnant. I just, I was shocked. I literally thought, Oh, my goodness. Okay. No one had ever told us how it happens, you know? Well, with the band hanging around, I can understand. But it happened. And what was your initial thoughts?

I actually toured until I was about seven, six or seven months, right when you heard the news. What did you think that moment where she literally screamed like, I'm pregnant? And would you say you said you said I have to push it out. Oh, my goodness. Okay. Okay. See, this is where you might have to edit. No, but I mean, your thought was, can we even do this? Oh, yeah. Like, how are we gonna afford this?

Like, how do we do this? He's never gonna be home. And now I can't really tour.

We don't have a tour bus at this time. You know, it sounds like what happened is that, you know, these inflection points in our life where we get married, we are pregnant with our first child kind of makes you less carefree. Yeah, sounds like what you're describing is, oh, we got to be responsible.

Totally. And then it divides us geographically. Like now we aren't together. So how does? Yeah, that was the biggest thing I think was just now okay, it's already hard enough to figure out how to do this life together.

How do we do it apart? Okay, so you have your first baby on the way you're touring. It's crazy. You're now thinking, man, can we bring a child into this environment, etc, with all the pressure? And then Matt, you start to get worried. Oh, yeah.

I mean, that was the big thing. And I think a lot of guys can relate to that. Now, this changes the dynamic. Sarah and I had pretty, you know, kind of easygoing. She could go with the flow if she needed to.

It does change. Yeah, I mean, I'd love to have her on the road with me. That became our lifestyle. And as challenging as it was, at times, we've become comfortable enough with that to make it work. And so adding that whole dynamic now of like, okay, she has to go home.

She can't be on the road anymore with a newborn. So I definitely was worried about some of those dynamics and how to navigate all that as a husband. Were you? Was anybody giving you advice?

Any mentor, male mentors in your life? I'm sure there were some people probably who were given some advice along the way, but our lifestyle was so here's another issue. For me, along the way that I always struggled with, was that our lifestyle was so disconnected from the local church and community, because of the way that we traveled, and kind of the level which we were at kind of grinding it to start out in the van as a group of guys, city to city with hardly any breaks.

So we didn't have grounding with our local pastors on a regular basis. That was another thing I think that we've discussed this Sarah and I, and I've had this discussion with other bands. You know, that's something that really well, I wish we would have prioritized more.

Well, that puts you at risk. Sarah, so many women are resonating with your concern for Matt being the leader, the spiritual leader, and you were having these concerns now that you have your first child on the way or arrived. How did that manifest itself? What are those concerns like for you, and how did you express them to Matt? I think I just wanted to feel like we were a team, and sometimes it's really hard to explain, but I wanted to feel like together we have a family.

Together we are, we have goals, and we're on the same page, and we discuss, and a lot of times for me it felt like it was the band and us, and so there was separation, and I didn't feel like he was part of us a lot of times as time went on with family and stuff. Did that ever feel, Matt, like she was nagging you? Yeah, I definitely think that as we were learning to communicate, not just with our words, but also kind of work through tone in our communication, especially when it got heightened.

I definitely felt at times like it was more of her being against me rather than for me, and that was a struggle, and those are things we still work out even 20 years in to this marriage. That approach and response and the tone of that can really change things. Sarah, you described in the book having a come to Jesus meeting.

I can see it now. With the Lord and then with Matt, I would assume. What was that like? Well, and we'll say it was probably the thousandth time I've said it to him, but maybe he just heard it different that time. Maybe I said it differently, I don't know, but it was just like, hey, I need you.

I like you. I just want you to be present and hear and engaged and not so grumpy. I just need you to be focused on where this family's ship was going. It felt like he was always focused on where the band ship was going.

I want to know where our ship is headed, and I want to see intentional steps to see that you're trying to steer it in a certain direction. I felt like an afterthought a lot. I felt like I just didn't feel the priority that I do feel now, and I knew we were missing something. And that is a recurring theme. But again, Matt, you were kind of missing the signs.

Why did that stick? Yeah, I think I had an internal dialogue and an imagination. We all do. It's like this imaginary life where our intentions of who we want to be or who we wish to be kind of define who we think we are. I think that my desire to be a good husband, my desire to be a good father, my thoughts that I had internally towards her were in a way enough, not realizing how blind I was, the fact that those intentions weren't being expressed in ways that made her feel loved.

Yeah. And maybe a big part of that too is I didn't know yet how to take those steps practically in some ways. So I think I heard her voice that day very clearly that she was not feeling what I wanted her to be feeling for me and that there definitely was an issue with my life and my action as a husband. And I think that day I really realized my good intentions, and this is a huge theme in the book, my good intentions were absolutely worthless until they became action that made her feel loved. And that's what led to your writing a song which has touched so many of us.

Yes. That day I looked at... I'd see my wife in tears and we've all seen our spouse, especially for men, our wives, through tears just when their emotions are broken. And I saw her countenance that day and I turned and I looked at the wedding picture of just sitting on the table right next to me. And in that wedding picture, she quite literally, not just because she looked beautiful, but her countenance was glowing with so much hope. And I could see such a stark contrast of the woman that was sitting in front of me seven years later, and it just broke my heart.

And so I picked up my guitar and that was the day that I wrote the first draft of the song, Lead Me. Did that connect with you, Sarah? Yeah, I loved the song. But a lot of people would say... That wasn't your initial reaction. Yeah, yeah.

A lot of people would say like, oh, that song is so wonderful. And I'm like, yeah, it comes with a lot of pain for me. I mean, it hurts.

That was a painful, painful day and kind of existence in where we disconnected. Yeah, but when I first played the song, she was kind of like, just like, just kind of like, I don't really want a song. Well, this is such a good point because you want action. How many wives want to feel it, not just hear it?

They want to see it. And how many husbands wish they could write a song or do something nice and it'd all be over, right? Exactly. Is that enough? Is it done? Those lyrics kind of haunted you, didn't they? They kind of kept you accountable. All right, let's keep moving through the story because we, you know, we're going to come back next time if you're willing and we're right toward the end.

So we'll come back for a second day and complete more of the story. But you had your second child and then pretty quickly had your third child, right? Yeah.

Everybody's two years apart. All right. So on that third child, you're having an ultrasound and you received some tough news. What was it? Yeah, we went in to find out what it was and we found out we're having a boy, but they told us he had a terrible heart and they didn't know if he would live.

And that started us on a kind of a whole new journey. Yeah. And what was that diagnosis? So they told us that day that he had a disease called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. That was a very rare condition that they rarely saw.

And so it's, it means that literally half of his heart did not develop any growth. Yeah. And you even had the doctors suggest terminating the child's life. Yeah, I was strongly aggressive to terminate. Sorry, I'm getting a little emotional. No, you're allowed. Yeah, it's in random times.

But anyways, um, yeah, no, he would be on tour, you know, because I'm home. And we have great parents, my mom would go with me to all the hundreds of appointments we had to go to. And we were at a doctor, it's kind of, they're called maternal fetal doctors, they basically help you figure out what you're having. And they thought he had some one of the trisomies. And they thought, you know, they knew his heart was really bad. And I remember, oh, gosh, probably five or six of the appointments when he was gone, they would come in really honestly, with large voices, kind of yelling a little bit and saying, what are you doing to your family and your marriage, this is not going to be good, your son will be in the hospital, intubated, he will have a short life, and it will be painful for everyone.

And the siblings, it's, it's kind of mean, is basically what he's trying to tell me. And I remember just saying, I will do anything I'm having this child, one day is worth it for me. Yeah. And your daughter, Emmy, was having dreams, correct? Yeah, yeah. This is this is a phenomenal story.

It's pretty awesome. Was she aware that the pregnancy was stressed? Or was this before she?

Yeah, M's. How old was she? And what were the dreams she was having? So Emmy started having dreams when she was two. And this is when you know, a two year old starts talking and chatting. And you're like, oh, you know, we can have conversations. And one time she woke up and she said, Mommy, I and this is very, she never told me about any other dreams, except for these. Mommy, I woke up and, or I had a dream, I had a dream about my brother.

We sing on stage, but he dies. And I'm like, what? She knows what heaven is.

But I don't know. This is before you're pregnant. This is before I'm pregnant. This is this is right as I'm having my second girl. And I don't even know if we're gonna have any more kids. So she has that dream. About a year later, she says, Mommy, I have a dream.

I have a brother. We're singing on stage, but he dies. Mommy, he dies.

Okay, that's weird. And then again, she has it a three times she has it. And the day she's diagnosed or were diagnosed. I laid in the bed with her and I said, Honey, you know that dream that you have about your brother? And he dies.

How old is he when he dies? And she says as big as you and daddy. And she's four years old. She didn't say as old as you and daddy. She said as big as you and daddy.

And that actually gave you the strength to say no, we're gonna move forward. Yeah, I was like, wow. And to this day, she's 14. And just last year when we were preparing for Bowen's surgery, she, um, she said she started almost unpacking it all. And she goes, that was Bowen, wasn't it?

Mom? And I was like, it wasn't she goes, I can still see him clear as day. And so I'll even ask, does it look like him? And she's kind of like, I don't know.

I can't really see his face. Right? No, I mean, what a but what a beautiful way that the Lord used. I think unbelievable. You know, the one part you didn't say it was really interesting is when Bridget or ultrasound tech was actually doing the ultrasound was when we went in and found out that day before they told us, Sarah leaned over and said to Bridget right as she saw the heart. It's so weird. I mean, he has these dreams. And so she told us later, like she was looking at that at that moment when Sarah leaned over and told her that that me wanted a brother, but he dies in these dreams she has.

And that's when the tech found his half a heart. So it's just interesting. Yeah. And, you know, just to make sure I mean, Bowen's alive. How old is Bowen? Yeah, Bowen's 10.

I just want I don't know. Yeah, we just Yeah, we celebrated Bowen's 10th birthday on September 9. Yeah. You know, and he did endure his third open heart surgery in July of 2019. But he is really in a season of thriving. Yeah. And I, you know, again, I didn't want to do a disservice to our listeners and viewers to say, Okay, what happened to Bowen? Yeah, absolutely.

thriving. And we're going to come back next time and continue the story and speak specifically to what happened in your marriage during all this time. So, man, what a powerful story.

And let me say to the listeners, lead me is a great resource. I mean, it touches on so many of life's complications. You know, when you feel like the Lord must have made a mistake in bringing my spouse because we're so different, or going through a catastrophe like a child diagnosed with a terminally ill situation. All those things bring tremendous pressure on your relationship with the Lord and your relationship with each other.

And both of you have set this up so well in terms of the rest of the story next time. If your marriage is struggling, like you're hearing here, we have Hope Restored, which is an excellent resource for you. It's a four day marriage intensive program, 80% post two year success rate, meaning two years later, those marriages, 80% of them are together and doing better. So consider that.

Don't let your marriage dissolve without fighting for it. Yeah, give us a call and let us connect you with one of our counselors. We'd be happy to tell you more about Hope Restored as well. Our number 800, the letter A in the word family. And you can also connect with us through the website and the link and details are in the show notes. And Jim mentioned this great book, Lead Me, and for a gift today to focus on the family, to support the work we're doing here, to support marriages and to speak the value of life into the culture.

Your donation of any amount will be greatly appreciated and we'll say thanks by sending a copy of Lead Me to You. Again, our number is 800, the letter A and the word family. Matt and Sarah, thanks again for being with us today. Let's come back next time and hear the rest of the story. Okay. Yeah, thank you so much. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-01 18:03:27 / 2023-11-01 18:15:29 / 12

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